Local baking company loses $20,000 in client scam
The baker believed she was shipping an order to Belize, but instead was scammed.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - The kitchen is Melodie Asseraf’s happy place. That’s why in 2020, she launched “Bake it with Mel” with a hope that others who may not have her culinary skills could enjoy baking too.
Her cookie mixes and baking kits can be found on Amazon and other online retailers, but earlier this year, she received an email from an interested store owner in Belize.
“Of course, as a small business, I was very excited. It was our first client going international,” Asseraf said.
Nothing seemed off at first to Asseraf, who even talked to the client on the phone.
“They were okay to pay up front. We exchanged a bunch of emails about skews, the marketing plan,” she said.
Asseraf said they paid using a software company called Quickbooks. She subscribes to the service monthly for this very reason - to protect her from falling victim to a scam.
“The first $28,000 cleared in the bank right away,” she said. “So, I’m like cool, this is a $28,000 order.”
Since Asseraf wasn’t used to shipping internationally, she says the company suggested a shipper to use. She corresponded with them for weeks, paying $7,000 up front to ship the massive order from her warehouse.
But right before the products went out, Asseraf says things started to fall apart.
Asseraf says the alleged shop owner disputed their $18,000 payment with Quickbooks - and the company she pays for obliged.
“Overnight, Quickbooks just took that money out of our account. $18,000,” she said.
The baking mixes were specifically made for the client in Belize. They also have a shelf life. So, with her upfront investment and the shipping cost she initially paid, Asseraf is out over 20 grand. Because turns out, she says that shipping company was fake too.
“For the last three months it has been very touch and go, it’s been very, very hard,” she said.
Asseraf pays Quickbooks $100 a month for their services, expecting them to protect her from scams like this. Instead, her money, was whisked away.
“Scams happen. These things happen. And whether you pick up on them right away or not, you count on your financial institutions you pay to defend you and stand up for your money,” she said.
Asseraf filed a report with the Huntersville Police Department and a detective is currently investigating.
While she’s been unable to get any answers from Quickbooks after months of trying, she finally received a phone call from the company less than an hour after WBTV reached out for comment. They’ve yet to provide a statement on Asseraf’s situation.
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